THE South African Communist Party (SACP), which forms a tripartite alliance with the ruling African National Congress and Cosatu, says it doubts Zanu PF’s commitment to talks with the opposit
ion Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
In a damning report, Can the Zimbabwean political impasse be broken?, the SACP, which recently sent a team to the country on a fact-finding mission, said Zanu PF was equivocating over talks to resolve the current crisis.
“We certainly agree that a negotiated transition offers the most probable and certainly the most desirable path to breaking the political impasse that is impacting with such devastating effect on the social and economic situation in Zimbabwe,” it said.
“However, the SACP is uncertain about the degree of commitment to serious negotiations, particularly from the side of the Zanu PF government. We are concerned that there might be a lack of urgency.”
Zanu PF and the MDC have been talking about talks for a long time now. The SACP said it was worried about repression and human rights abuses in the country.
“We are also deeply concerned at the continued repression of workers, opposition activists and of journalists,” it said. “Such measures do not help to create a climate for serious negotiations, in which both sides assume full, patriotic responsibility for taking their country out of its crisis.”
The SACP said South Africa should resist being sucked into the vortex of the Zimbabwe crisis.
“It is also important that we do not allow ourselves, as South Africans, to be manoeuvred into a position in which it seems that we need, or at least our government needs, the negotiations to succeed more than the Zimbabweans themselves,” it said.
While land redistribution was “very central to consolidating the Zimbabwean independence struggle, a lawless, populist-inspired land grab by an elite in the inner circles of government is a cruel caricature of the kind of land reform that the rural poor of Zimbabwe (and South Africa) so desperately require”, the SACP said.
“The ‘fast-track’ land reform in Zimbabwe has left hundreds of thousands of the poorest of farm workers displaced and without work,” it said. The SACP said the ANC regarded the MDC as a creature of Zanu PF’s “mistakes and stagnation”.
“In late 1999 and through to the Zimbabwean parliamentary elections of 2000, the ANC government analysed the emergence of MDC as essentially a symptom of Zanu PF’s mistakes and stagnation,” it said.
“The principal strategic response (of the ANC) was to encourage (Zanu PF towards) more proficient governance and renewal of the party, fostering organisational democracy and a mass base.”
But, the SACP said, “for several reasons, Zanu PF was unable to pursue this engagement consistently – which does not mean that we should quit trying”.
“The parliamentary elections of 2000 also underlined that the MDC was not a passing phenomenon, it had established a significant electoral base,” it said.